The Stage is Set for the Elite 8 Clash

#2 Michigan State Spartans -3 over Duke Blue Devils, Sunday March 31st,  5:05 pm EST

Michigan State is making their March Madness run look like pre-season, while Duke is giving us drama for days, but we should expect that by now.

2-seed Michigan State has presented a master class in getting through to the Elite Eight. They outplayed LSU at every corner of the court, as they did with Bradley and Minnesota.

Duke has given us what we all crave from March Madness: nail-biting insanity and breathless close calls. Under the excitement of watching them, we find a team that can’t hide their drama-inducing flaws as they enter the court against Michigan State on Sunday.

The differences of Michigan State, in their balanced and methodical swagger, and Duke, a showy, explosive and unpredictable force, sets the stage for an epic clash.

The Spartans are averaging 78.5 points on 48.6% from the field and average 8.1 3-pointers at 38.1% from beyond the arc, which is close to what they delivered facing LSU. Big-ups on consistency, boys.

Cassius Winston is usually the game leader but Aaron Henry stepped in on Saturday as the top scorer with 20 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 block, and a steal.

Let’s get real about Duke; Zion and Barrett live up to their hype, regardless of their teams pitfalls. Reddish would have been in their company but is out with a knee injury so I’ll forgive them a little for their lack of balance. The Blue Devils shot 55.4% from the field and held Virginia Tech to 40.3% shooting from the field and 34.6% from beyond the arc. Overall, Duke averaged 83.4 PPG on 47.7% of their shooting from the field.

Defensively, Michigan State is solid and this should be Duke’s biggest concern. If the Blue Devils can control their offense into making good decisions, drive to the basket and maybe not take just any shot from beyond the arc, they have a chance of subduing the Spartans.

The Spartans are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Sunday games and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games. Duke is 10-2 ATS in their last 12 against Big 10 opponents, 1-4-1 in their last 6 neutral site games and 1-5-1 in their last 7 games against teams with a winning percentage above .600.

You can’t mess around with a workhorse team like the Spartans. The Blue Devils are going to have all of their weaknesses exposed and while this will be a dramatic game, it won’t come from Michigan State. The Spartans are going to show up, get their job done and will win this with poise, taking them to the Final Four.


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